Abby

The Vicious Pixies began their last song of the night. Abby Simone prowled from one edge of the stage to the other, lost in the opening notes of an unhinged variant of “A Tisket A Tasket.” The keyboardist played a sparkly sequence of notes on a xylophone while a backup singer ran her fingers across a row of chimes in steady intervals. The drummer worked the brushes, and the bass player’s fingers strolled up and down the fretboard of his Rickenbacker in a nursery rhyme scale. The guitarist stood immobile near the side of the stage, waiting for his chance to speed the melody.

Abby wore a short tapered black jacket, miniskirt, and red and yellow leggings. She grabbed a black top hat from a stagehand and placed it at a rakish angle over her spiked blonde hair. Her magisterial presence enabled her to manipulate her fans’ emotions with as little as the twist of a finger or a sudden shreik. She slammed the rest of her beer, threw the empty bottle into the crowd, and crooned,

A tisket, a tasket
A black and yellow casket,
I wrote a letter, to my lover
but on the way I tossed it.
I tossed it, I tossed it,
On the way I tossed it,
I wrote a letter, to my lover
And on the way I lost him.

As her mind wandered through the lyrics, she thought of Krieger, who had left her when she sent him a bouquet of black roses after a vicious argument. He hated her drug use and erratic behavior. So he joined the Army, went to Afghanistan, and died in a firefight on the side of a rocky incline, thousands of miles from home, surrounded by a group of men who understood each other.

The song grew more dissonant and aggressive with each verse, unraveling with Abby’s fraying emotions. She thought of her abusive father walking out on the family when she was seven years old, and how her mother never remarried and spent most of the rest of her life smoking, drinking, screwing guys she didn’t like, and avoiding her three children, only to die of cancer when Abby was sixteen, and how Krieger looked very much like her dad—and as obvious and absurd and painful as all of this was, Abby pretended she didn’t care because at least she could still stare into the mirror in the morning and gaze at her young, beautiful face and find something gentle in her eyes when she was alone. The final chorus was a wall of sound. She screamed,

Holding on in bloody silence,
fear and darkness, broken heart.
Shattered spirits, ruined hopes
and nothing left but angry art.

As the band smashed out the last notes, she sprinted to the edge of the stage and leaped as far as she could over the crowd. She flew through the air, knowing the people near the front of the stage would catch her. They would swallow her up in their arms, place her safely on the ground, and tell her how much they loved her. They always did. This is what they wanted. It was something she knew she could give them, something she could manage. Why bother changing anything?